Reduced manufacture of the M2 chipset powering the consumer laptop is the latest indicator that Apple’s MacBook Air M2, introduced at the 2022 Worldwide Development Conference, is nearing the end of its life. The release of the MacBook Air M3 appears likely to coincide with this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June.
The M3 chipset in the new Air will provide a consumer laptop with more processing power than most users will ever require. For those who require more space, Apple is also anticipated to release a new MacBook Air with a 15-inch display. Another new product is the MacBook Pro. And everyone ought to stay away from it.
Apple’s departure from Intel and adoption of its own ARM-based Apple Silicon shook up the MacBook range in 2020, boosting sales of the MacBook Air and inspiring a new generation of 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros to hit the market on April 10th. Apple’s massive transition to ARM also caused a stir in the PC market.
The latest data from Counterpoint Research shows that, despite Apple’s success with ARM, the PC sector has yet to catch up and incorporate the technology’s benefits.
“Personal computers (PCs) based on Arm architecture will grow in popularity and their market share will almost double from 14% now to 25% by 2027, according to Counterpoint Research’s latest projections. The ability of Arm-based hardware to run Mac OS has allowed Apple to capture 90% of the Arm-based notebook computer market.”
The Counterpoint group believes that laptops are one of the most promising future markets for ARM chips. Apple has years of user input and commercial experience to draw on, and the lower operating temperatures and more efficient use of power will be major drivers in acceptance.
When Intel chips powered the MacBooks, the difference between the MacBook Air and the MacBook Pro was clear. Although the former prioritized portability above performance, the latter prioritized power, and performance in a bulkier laptop.
Tim Cook and his colleagues altered the proportions with the introduction of Apple Silicon. In 2020, the MacBook Air launched with the M1 chipset, which provided a performance on par with the previous generation of Intel MacBook Pros. The market now had a product that gave consumers both the power they demanded and the portability they desired.
The M1 Pro and M1 Max, two new MacBook Pro models at 14 and 16 inches, bring Apple Silicon’s promise of power to a wider audience. These new MacBook Pro models are the ultimate in professional functionality. If you need a laptop running macOS, go no further than Apple’s MacBook Air.
And then there was the MacBook Pro M1 with a 13-inch screen. When it was released alongside the M1 MacBook Air, it provided a significant performance boost over the Air and was the most powerful MacBook available until the arrival of the bigger MacBook Pro machines. The 13-inch MacBook Pro was underpowered compared to the high-end and was forced to compete with the power of the MacBook Air. It was the worst possible option.
There was probably a good reason for Apple to release two laptops in the Same line at once (the Air and the Pro), but the 13-inch MacBook Pro was quickly rendered obsolete.
Despite the introduction of the M2 processor, Apple stubbornly kept the 13-inch MacBook Pro in its lineup. While the larger MacBook Pro notebooks roared ahead in performance, it stayed slightly ahead of the M2 MacBook Air for a substantial premium.
The ungainly and nebulous MacBook Pro appears to be where Apple is putting its focus now. Everyone is anticipating the next iteration of the MacBook Air and a subsequent improvement in consumer laptop performance with the impending reveal of the third edition of the Apple Silicon desktop CPU, presumably dubbed M3, at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference in June.
Those in need of additional processing muscle are eyeing the larger laptops, multitaskers will choose the M3 Air, and cost-conscious consumers will cross their fingers that the M2 Air, currently the lowest-priced MacBook, will drop to $999. That’s before we even include the enticing MacBook Air 15-inch model.
Apple has built a reputation for itself as a reliable brand. Who needs yet another underpowered MacBook Pro 13-inch model?